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Filipina takes top prize in essay-writing contest

03 July 2018

By Daisy C L Mandap

A Filipino-Chinese mother of two kids has won the top prize in the English category of the “Love is All Around” the first Chinese and English writing contest sponsored by the Hong Kong Federation of Journalists.

Dawn Yu-Aquino, who holds a degree in hotel and restaurant management from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, took off from her bi-cultural upbringing to write about the topic of filial piety.

“It’s a concept and societal norm most Asians grow up and live with, yet some struggle to grasp its significance. Others debate its value and a few disown it altogether. For me, it is like a second skin, as natural as breathing, as important as eating, as essential as drinking,” she said in her piece.

The complete text of her winning essay can be found here:
Secretive and self-effacing Dawn didn’t bring anyone along in receiving her prize so didn’t have her own picture. Photo above was published in South China Morning Post. 

The 41-year-old writing enthusiast said it took her just one afternoon to finish the essay. “It was a topic close to my heart so it was easy to write,” she said.

Her love for writing made her decide to take up journalism in her first year at UP, but this was soon overtaken by a bigger passion, cooking, that she switched to HRM.

When she and her banker-husband Derrick relocated to Hong Kong 15 years ago, she managed to take on a parttime job teaching cooking to international school kids, but continued writing on the side.

Later on, she also did volunteer work for the International Care Ministries, a church-based charity organization in Hong Kong that raises millions of dollars each year for poor communities in the Philippines.

Whenever she finds time, Yu-Aquino contributes articles to friends’ blogs and to the Youngstar section of Philippine Star, one of the country’s leading dailies. She mostly writes about food and raising kids, which is one other topic she is keen about, having two of her own, 15-year-old Joaquin and 8-year-old Gab.

“Writing puts a lot of demand on your time, and that’s not easy when you are trying to raise a family,” she said.

A few months ago she stumbled on an announcement in The Standard about the HKFJA contest, and decided to join. She didn’t hear from the organizers until just before the announcement of winners was made early this month.

On Jun 16, she led the list of winners in the English category at the awards rites held at Cordis hotel in Mongkok. Yu-Aquino was declared champion in the “open category” – meaning, all age groups – and received a cash prize of $30,000 and a certificate.

Among those who got a merit award in the same category was another Filipina, Janica Therese Bergas, a student at Chinese University in Hong Kong who took home $3,000 and a certificate.

The contest was co-organized by leading media organizations in Hong Kong and supported by the Hong Kong government.

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